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The Blonde Cucina: Beach snacks to keep everyone happy

by on August 03, 2016 12:17 PM

There are a few things you need to consider when you are getting ready to spend a day at the beach.

One thing, for sure, is that there will be sand everywhere — and I mean everywhere. Not to mention that you'll be taking some of that sand home with you.

Another thing that needs to be considered is, no matter who goes with you, with all the sun and fun you will need tons of water and everyone will be hungry.

So, having said that, snacks are an absolute must when you’re planning your day at the beach.

If you go to places such as Ocean City, Md., or Wildwood, N.J., you can purchase snacks and meals from concession stands and boardwalk vendors, but those tend to be pricey and have minimal nutritional value. If you go to beaches like those in the Outer Banks of North Carolina that don't have boardwalks, you'll have to make your own snacks and bring them with you. But, what do you take or make that will stand up to the heat and will be a crowd pleaser?

With some creative planning, you can make everyone happy, keep your spending in check and not spend too much time in the kitchen.

One of my absolute favorite things to make, no matter the time of year, is trail mixes or snack mixes. They all have tones of flavor, please everyone and go a long way. You can make them as you please and even make them as healthful as you’d like, too. You can use things like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, crackers, pretzels, cereal pieces — you name it.

When making your trail mix or snack mix masterpiece, you don’t want to go overboard on items like crackers, salted nuts and pretzels. These are things you can use, but the salt and the texture of these items will make your crew even thirstier. Also, make sure to put your mixes in single-serve bags or containers — something that can be resealed to keep out those pesky seagulls and sand.

 

NUTTY FRUIT TRAIL MIX

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: about 7

1/4 cup of each of the following:

walnut halves

pecan halves

almonds

cashews

dried cranberries

dried apricots

banana chips

raisins

dried strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss the nuts with a pinch of sea salt and spread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes until golden, stirring halfway through to prevent over toasting or burning.

Let the nuts cool completely. Mix the nuts with the dried fruit.

 

BEACHGOER MIX

Start to finish: 3 hours, 10 minutes

9 cups Chex-type cereal (I use half rice squares and half corn squares)

1 cup butter snap pretzels

1 cup Cheerios-type toasted oat cereal

1 cup mini saltine crackers

1 cup broken garlic bagel chip pieces

1 cup of mini cheese crackers

1 cup peanuts

6 tablespoons butter, melted and hot

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Put the first seven ingredients into a slow cooker. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter and all dry and liquid seasonings.

Slowly spoon or drizzle the sauce evenly over the top of the mix. Toss for about one minute, or until the mixture is evenly combined.

Cover with a dish towel to collect condensation, place slow cooker lid on and set the heat to low for three hours. Stir every 35 to 45 minutes to prevent burning.

Spread the mixture on brown paper bags in an even layer until it cools to room temperature.



If you need other snacks because you’re going to be on the beach multiple days, you can also make your own popcorn. Whether you realize it or not, popcorn is healthy, or rather it can be. It is a whole grain food that can be low in fat, too. Making it is an air popper is best, but if you don’t have one you can get “healthy” microwavable popcorn or if you make it on the stove, using just a small amount of canola oil.

You can take your popcorn from ordinary to extraordinary with seasonings, but don't use butter when headed to the beach. It will be sticky and up the calorie count. Use things such as dill weed, Parmesan cheese or any sort of dry seasoning you and your fellow beachgoers like.

There's also nothing wrong with grabbing bananas, apples, whole-grain pretzels, granola bars and, as I always say, let the store help you. These are all easy to pack, relatively healthy and will keep you at the beach longer.

 



Ciara Semack is the owner of The Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte. She is the mother of one and a lifelong resident of Centre County. Her column appears every other week in the Gazette. Questions, suggestions and comments can be directed to [email protected]
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